International Seminar in Mathematics Education 2009

PCMI International Seminar: Mathematics Education Around the World: Bridging Policy and Practice, Summer, 2009

Traditions and practices in mathematics education differ across the world but yet each can offer valuable ways of thinking about what it means to teach and to learn mathematics. In particular, many current practices and visions of reform can be examined against other countries' norms and policies as well as from the perspective and experience of different cultures, political systems, and economies. These reflections can be used to inform not only individual countries' mathematics education programs but serve to bring the international community closer to some common understandings.

Since 2001, the International Seminar on Mathematics Education has brought together a small group of international participants, selected for their key roles in policy and practice in mathematics education in their own countries. The primary goal of the Seminar is to establish an ongoing dialogue that examines, in practical and grounded terms, the interplay of policy and practice in diverse systems of primary and secondary mathematics education. Participants in the Seminar design and implement a series of reflections on common problems, along with suggestions for policy and practice and innovative offerings to share with the international community. The set of countries represented in the Seminar changes over time, with continuing attention to diversity and variety in educational challenges.

The sixth weeklong International Seminar, "Bridging Policy and Practice: Mathematics Education Around the World" was held as part of the 2009 PCMI Summer Session. This seminar focused on the teaching and learning of function and the implications for teacher preparation and development. The participants came as teams consisting of one mathematics education/policy-maker and one practicing secondary mathematics teacher from each of eight countries (Australia, Cambodia, Denmark, Israel, Namibia, Peru, United States, and Vietnam).

Discussions and presentations related to the general questions:

How does the teaching of functions take place in the classrooms in your country; when do students start learning about functions; and when do concepts become formalized?

In particular participants responded to the following:

  • Are Dynamic Geometry Environments being used in the curricula in your country and if so, how does use this relate to the way functions are treated in your country's school curriculum?
  • How does the curriculum in your country deal with multiple representations of function? Is there support in your country for the claim that the core concept of function is not represented by any of the multiple representations (tables, graphs, symbols) seen in many curricula?
  • How is function defined and what is its role in your school curriculum? What are some of the variations of that role as students progress through the curriculum?
  • Is function being used as a foundational concept and an organizing principle in your curriculum and if so, how?

The participants worked together to establish consensus on various issues that emerged in the course of the discussions and, in working groups, produced three short policy briefs that present their collective views on

2009 PCMI International Seminar Participant Directory (password protected)